At the core of the Louisiana State Museum's Music Collection is its internationally known Jazz Collection, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the world. The Jazz Collection chronicles the music and careers of the men and women who created, enhanced and continue in the tradition of New Orleans jazz at the local, national and international levels. It consists of instruments, pictorial sheet music, photographs, records, tapes, manuscripts and other items ranging from Louis Armstrong's first cornet to a 1917 disc of the first jazz recording ever made. It includes the world's largest collection of instruments owned and played by important figures in jazz- trumpets, cornets, trombones, clarinets and saxophones played by jazz greats such as Bix Beiderbecke, Edward "Kid" Ory, George Lewis, Sidney Bechet and Dizzy Gillespie.
Other artifacts in the jazz collection include some 12,000 photographs from the early days of jazz; recordings in a wide variety of formats, including over 4,000 78 rpm records that date from 1905 to the mid- 1950's, several thousand 12-inch LPs and 45 rpm records, and approximately 1,400 reel-to-reel tapes; posters, paintings and prints; hundreds of examples of sheet music from late 19th-century ragtime to popular songs of the 1940's and 1950's - many of them first editions that became jazz standards; several hundred rolls of film featuring concert and nightclub footage, funerals, parades, and festivals; hundred of pieces of relevant ephemera; and architectural fragments from important jazz venues.